French President Emmanuel Macron has decided to suspend the planned electoral reform in New Caledonia following weeks of deadly riots in the territory. The reform aimed to extend the right to vote in provincial elections to residents who have lived in the territory for at least 10 years, potentially allowing 24,000 people to cast their ballots. However, the move sparked unrest among local leaders, particularly the Indigenous Kanak community, who saw it as a threat to their representation and the independence movement.

President Macron’s decision to suspend the reform came after confirming the ninth death in the violence that erupted in New Caledonia, marking the worst unrest in the territory in 40 years. The President emphasized the need for dialogue and order restoration in the region before considering any changes to the electoral system.

The suspension of the reform follows Macron’s snap election call and the dissolution of the French parliament after his party’s defeat in the European Parliament elections. The President recognized the lack of a common vision for New Caledonia’s future during his visit to the region, signaling a need for broader consensus before moving forward with any electoral changes.

Pro-independence movements hailed Macron’s decision to suspend the reform, viewing it as a step towards rebuilding peace and social cohesion in the territory. President Louis Mapou also acknowledged the irrelevance of the electoral changes in light of the French parliament’s dissolution and announced the unfortunate death of a 34-year-old man in a confrontation during the riots.

New Caledonia continues to grapple with the aftermath of five weeks of violence, with significant costs for rebuilding and ongoing security challenges. The French security forces remain active in the archipelago, urging protesters to lift roadblocks and restore calm. The High Commission reported numerous arrests and injuries in connection to the riots, highlighting the need for stability and reconciliation in the region.

As the unrest persists, New Caledonia faces a long road to recovery, with the international airport closed and a night curfew in place. The authorities are working to address the underlying issues that led to the violence and ensure the safety and well-being of all residents in the territory. Despite the challenges ahead, there is hope for a peaceful resolution and a renewed commitment to dialogue and unity in New Caledonia.